SYRACUSE, N.Y.— The Upstate New York Poison Center at Upstate Medical University has launched an awareness campaign, Operation Medicine Spoon, to encourage parents and caregivers to use a calibrated medicine spoon for giving liquid medicine to children when the medicine is not packaged with its own dosing device.

People who use an ordinary “kitchen spoon” to dispense medicine may be overdosing or under dosing their child, according to Gail Banach, director of public education and communications for the Upstate New York Poison Center.

“A big issue is that spoons vary so much in size,” said Banach. “Additionally, spills can more easily occur when using a kitchen spoon. Using a calibrated medicine spoon will better ensure that the child is receiving the right amount of medicine,” she said.

Operation Medicine Spoon came about through Banach’s involvement as a member of a national committee, spearheaded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), looking at the problem of unintentional ingestions of medication in children. One recent study found that 40 percent of parents misdosed medication prescribed for their child that could lead to a possible overdose. The Upstate New York Poison Center adopted this cause as a poison prevention educational platform.

Operation Medicine Spoon is being phased in at Upstate University Hospital outpatient locations that provide pediatric care, including the Pediatric Emergency Room at the hospital’s Downtown Campus, the Upstate Golisano After Hours Care at its Community Campus and the Pediatric & Adolescent Center at UHCC (University Health Care Center) in Syracuse.

Adults who bring a child to these sites for care will receive a packet of information that includes an easy-to-read brochure promoting medicine safety in the home and a reusable, calibrated medicine spoon. The items are contained in a plastic medicine bag that includes the 1-800-222-1222 telephone number of the Poison Center. Parents or caregivers will also be asked to complete a survey to help the Poison Center determine the success of the awareness campaign and that will provide data to determine future funding.

Operation Medicine Spoon is funded through a Friend in Deed grant from the Foundation for Upstate Medical University and through a grant from Advocates for Upstate Medical University. Banach hopes additional funding can be secured to expand the campaign throughout the Poison Center’s 54-county coverage area.